The pandemic has been an invitation for myself to reflect on the vision I have been having for Equilibrium. When I left the software company I was working for in 2006 – at the age of 27 – I told my work colleagues that I would be opening a yoga centre. There were only a few who did not think I was a little crazy.
Opening the studio in Peterborough was definitely not an easy birth and I’m pleased that I did not really know what was involved in starting a business. The building works took longer, were more expensive and we encountered problems along the way which we did not know existed. When Brian, my now husband, and I opened Huntingdon in 2011 and we encountered some of the same problems, even though in a much milder form, he could not understand that I had agreed to opening a second centre having experienced the horrendous birthing pains in Peterborough. I guess… one forgets.
The vision for Equilibrium has always been about an interdisciplinary approach where a community of practitioners, clients, teachers and therapists can come together to create something bigger than the sum of the individual parts. It was always meant to be a place of growth, exploration, healing and a space to simply be. For me, it has always been about the physical space and the energy that gets created when we are together in a room. I loved the first yoga studio I went to in Edinburgh in 1999, which has been a huge inspiration for Equilibrium.
And at its core, the vision is the same: it’s about creating balance. I feel that this is more current than ever. I can see so much polarisation around me. I hope as a centre we can strive for balance and come into equilibrium:
My vision is that Equilibrium can create a great balance within the team of teachers and therapists, in what we deliver, the people we attract and the space we create.
One of my teachers in the body psychotherapy world often talks about group dynamics and how we relate to people. She describes two relational systems: dominance/submission and the supportive companionable. The first way of relating is comparing ourselves to others in the group and start to feel inferior or superior. In other words, we go “one down” or “one up”. The other way of relating is to move into the “supportive companionable” where we can relate as equals – no matter what functional role we are occupying. When we are in the “less than” space we often experience powerlessness. In body psychotherapy terms: we lose our inner authority. In that moment, we sense that we don’t have a choice. We feel that things are happening “to” us and that we don’t have an impact on our environment. To work with trauma and stress it’s crucial that we get out of the patterns of dominance (thinking too much of ourselves) and submission (thinking too little of ourselves) and move towards the supportive companionable.
The current situation is stress inducing, can be potentially traumatic and I have been tracking in myself that occasionally I’m moving into the one down position. In those moments I feel things are done to me and the world is unfair. When I’m stopping and recognising that I have choices, albeit sometimes not great ones, I can reclaim my inner power and take charge of making things work for me, which is a crucial aspect in moving through the current difficulties in a healthy way.
To maintain inner authority, it’s pivotal that we take small breaks, sense into how we are, slow down and integrate our experiences. We need to take charge of making things work for us. The inner feeling of being in charge gets diminished when we just “suck it up and get on with things".
When do you lose your sense of inner authority? What is it like in your body? Where do you collapse? What choices do you actually have?
For Christmas I was a gifted the book of “The Midnight Library", which I've found a very inspirational and thought provoking read. In this novel, the philosopher Thoreau is named and quoted numerous times. One quote in particular made me stop and reflect:
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." (Henry David Thoreau)
I've been contemplating a lot about projections, how we view the world and how our narrative shapes our reality. It's interesting to observe in myself what story I put onto a one-liner email, how I interpret a facebook post or what I read into a simple text message. Ultimately, I'm restricting myself and closing opportunities that are there, but I can't perceive as such. My intent is definitely to catch those moments when I'm filling in the gaps with all sorts of speculations that are neither helpful nor true and then to stay present with what really is vs. my wild interpretation of it.
I'm wishing you a happy new year 2021 where we hopefully can distinguish a little bit more between what we look at and what we see. And maybe there is space to see things and situations differently.
Part of my supervision is to reflect on my own process and how it is moving through me. The word that came up recently during one of my sessions is “gestation”, which medically means the period of maturation inside the womb from conception to birth. More generally, it’s about the development of something over a period of time. The normal limits of the human gestation period are from 37 to 42 weeks. It has now been about 34 weeks since the start of the first lockdown and in myself I get the sense that something new will be born in the near future. Since March of this year I’ve completed one of the biggest projects of my life (UKCP registration as a psychotherapist), I let go of a role that I had been holding for the last eight years within the Forrest Yoga community and of course I have stopped travelling completely, which brought about a huge change in the way I deliver my work. I have felt that there has been a true integration within myself of the different passions I have: yoga and body psychotherapy. For me, it’s culminating in a two day training I will be teaching online at the end of the month where I’m bringing together different aspects of my work. In some way, I’m being more un-apologetically me in my work.
What has been developing within you? What new beginnings are lurking around the corner for you? What are you giving birth to?
We hope you are safe and healthy.
Due to recent governmental policies, we will need to close the physical centres from Thursday 5th of November until Wednesday 2nd of December - as it stands. Our last in person class will be Tuesday evening in Huntingdon and Wednesday evening in Peterborough. From Thursday 5th of November, all classes will be streamed online. We're currently speaking to the teachers to finalise the timetable, so all sessions with your most favourite instructors should be streameable.
Use this link to see all live-streamed sessions. Please remember that we have two locations and some live streamed sessions are under Huntingdon; some are under Peterborough:
Live Streamed Scheduler
Plus we've been developing our video on demand offer. If you have not tried it, it's only £12 for an introductory offer. We're adding new videos every week. It's £19 after that or £15/month if you commit to 12 months.
Our thoughts are also with those of you who are financially struggling and we would like to support you. We're giving away two times one month of video-on-demand to two people who would not normally be able to afford yoga. This was enabled through the kind generosity of Carlton who donated his teaching to this cause. Contact us if you or somebody you know could benefit from yoga, but can't afford it.
If you had technical issues in the past, please contact Brian on email@example.com and he will walk you through the set up step by step. We've learned a lot during the last months and even though you might not have had a satisfactory experience before, the solution might be simple.
If you can't go online or don't want to, here is what we can offer you:
- If you are holding a membership and you'd like to freeze it for November, please contact us. We're waving the notice period. The £10 admin charge still applies.
- If you are holding a valid 5 or 10 class pass, please contact us and we can credit your account with the monetary value of the remaining sessions. We're waving our regular policies for November. There is a £5 admin fee. There is no time limit on the credit.
Please contact us by end of November 2020 in order to make use of the more flexible and changed policies. You need to hold a valid membership or pass in order for us to process your credit.
Let's all stay grounded, centred and kind to one another.
Watching a recent video on you tube with Lisbeth and Ditte Marcher, I was struck by the notion of “Justice does not exist”, i.e. things are unfair at times. We develop a sense of just and unjust between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. It’s the time the child learns to make decisions and how to choose. The understanding of duality, such as good and bad, is being developed then. During that time, the ability to understand consequences is also established. In the video, both women make clear that choosing something means letting go of something else. In order to make decisions we need to fully embrace the consequences of that decision, including the fact that things might not be fair. We can get stuck in that developmental phase thinking that things are either black or white, fair or not fair. Subsequently, we have difficulties making decisions, because in reality there are no perfect choices. Sometimes the decision is between pest and cholera.
I, personally, feel that this has so much relevance right now. My sense is that we really need to let go of the notion of justice and be real that we have choices, but that they might not be fantastically great.
Where do you get trapped when making decisions? What happens within you when you get stuck in the position of “The world is unfair?”.
In one of the sessions with my client, the word autonomy came up, which I have been reflecting on since. In Bodynamic, which is a form of body psychotherapy, the stage of autonomy is a developmental phase from 8 months to 2.5 years. It’s the time where we learn to keep our impulses whilst being in relationship. The question is “Who am I when in contact with another?”. One of the risks we are running is that we lose ourselves in the relationship. The challenge is to stay in contact with our own centre, power and feelings whilst being in relationship with another human being. It’s about an open heart without needing to shut down or abandon ourselves.
I invite you to track when you lose connection to yourself, when you start to follow another person’s rhythm, pace and timing, thereby losing your own and when you give your power away in order to stay in contact.
One of the approaches I take as a yoga teacher and also psychotherapist is to pay attention to what is coming up. I follow what is emerging in the energetic field and my intent is to bring curiosity, acceptance and neutrality to it. It’s a very organic method of working led by the process vs. me trying to take control and direct things in a certain way, which is definitely a go to place of mine. I like certainty and I like to know where I’m heading. Yoga and Body Psychotherapy have taught and continue to teach me to stand in an empty room and wait. Instead of wanting to make things happen or having a pre-conceived idea where life takes me, I’m working on allowing the process to move through as it needs to. My intent is to hold space for the people I work with in exactly that way. And as my therapist used to say: It takes a lot of courage and nerve to stand in an empty room. It’s about creating space, not filling it back up and then waiting what is coming to the surface. In the current times with all the uncertainty, I feel this is more relevant than ever.
What happens when you stand in an empty space? What are your go to places? What happens when there is space in your life?
The overarching feelings for the last two to three weeks, in myself and my clients, have been overwhelm, exhaustion and anxiety. For me, lockdown provided quite a strong structure of what I could and could not do. The easing out of lockdown has brought more uncertainty and in some respects more headache, as things are so much more in flux and continuously shifting. Guidelines are not always clear, feelings are running high and sensitivities have been touched.
Ana Forrest is famous for saying: "Evolve or die". The nature of yoga studios is changing and we are moving towards a "hybrid model" of offering classes online and in-person at the same time. This means that yoga teachers and studios are required to teach differently, learn new skills and stay flexible in terms of what is possible. The ground is ever moving and there is a distinct lack of solidity.
My own experience at the moment is that my skin is very thin, I have a sense of being stripped bare and my connection to the ground is less present. I feel vulnerable and raw.
I also recognise that being stripped bare offers the opportunity to let go of the old and to make a conscious decision on how and what to move forward with. For me, it has been a very deliberate process of deciding what people to surround myself with and what relationships to free myself from. The shaky ground is an opportunity to create a new vision of Equilibrium and also of myself.
I'd like to thank all of you who supported me on my journey. Thank you all who supported Equilibrium Yoga Centres in the last 12 years, but especially the last 4 months.
Walk in beauty.
We're excited that we will be opening our doors again on 25th of July, both in Peterborough and Huntingdon.
The first session in Peterborough in person will take place on Saturday 25th of July and in Huntingdon on Monday 27th of July.
We've put together a timetable taking into consideration the results of the survey where we listened to your voice, the availability and willingness of the teachers to come to the studios, cleaning times and general logistics around the changed reality due to covid. We think we've come up with a great solution: a good mix of different styles and teachers at times you told us you preferred, in-person and live-streamed sessions with your favourite teachers, new teachers and guest teachers from all over the world, including a regular live streamed Yin Yoga class on a Tuesday morning with South African yoga teacher Ridwaan Lockhart from 4th of August. We understand that the timetable is not perfect and that your most favourite class or teacher might not be on the timetable or at a time you like. We welcome any feedback, and will consider it for future changes.
What we have put in place:
To embrace our new changed world, here is what we have put into place:
Here is an explanation about the timetable:
What we need you to do:
Here is what we need you to do for the in-person classes:
Our Terms & Conditions
Our Terms and Conditions have changed: IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
Memberships: If you are currently a 12 monthly member and you'd like to cancel your membership, please contact us by 30th of July. You will be able to cancel your membership free of charge with immediate effect. After that, the regular terms and conditions apply to your membership, i.e. 12 monthly commitment or if you have been a member for 12 months already, a 30-day notice period.
We're currently unclear about mask regulations, so please bear with us and we will send you some further information once we have an update.
Our landscape has been continually changing and we're constantly reviewing best practices, governmental regulations, recommendations by UK Yoga Alliance and expert advice. Please bear with us as we are navigating this increasingly more complex terrain.
We very much feel that in these times yoga is an incredible tool to stay grounded and centred with strong boundaries enabling us to have compassion for others without losing ourselves.
We hope through these measures we will create an enjoyable experience for teachers, therapists and clients alike and provide a space where we can come back home to ourselves in a peaceful and restful way.
Our thanks go to all of you who supported us through this pandemic by showing up online and buying drop ins, memberships and passes. Thank you all also for your kind words and your encouragement during these challenging times.
Walk in beauty
Yoga, well-being and mindfulness... always walk in beauty.